Without the furor that accompanies national and statewide campaigns, voter turnout for local elections shows a dramatic decline.

In the first week of advance and early voting in Walker County, fewer than 100 had cast ballots in the countywide sales tax referendum and fewer than 50 had voted in the LaFayette and about 40 had cast ballots in the Chickamauga city council races.

At stake are three seats on the Chickamauga City Council, with six candidates competing in that at-large election, and a single contested seat, with two candidates, on the LaFayette City Council.

It is at the council level that decisions are made that affect how a city develops, implements and budgets a shared vision for how a municipality will operate. Last week's edition of the Messenger featured Vic Burgess who hopes to unseat incumbent Beacher Garmany in LaFayette. Today, candidates vying for election to the Chickamauga council are featured.

But even though there are few candidates in those council campaigns and only one countywide referendum item, this Nov. 7 election is important.

There is one other item, a referendum concerning whether to adopt a 1 percent tax on retail sales (excluding fuel) that would be earmarked for improving roads and bridges within the county.

The TSPLOST (transportation special local option sales tax) referendum will be included on the municipal ballots.

The referendum will also be the sole item that voters who live outside the incorporated municipalities. Residents of Rossville and Lookout Mountain, where there are no challengers to the elected city officials, also can vote for or against the referendum.

LaFayette city council ballots and the countywide TSPLOST referendum voting can be done at Room 110 in the County Courthouse on Duke Street. Early voting will be allowed between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p. m. Monday through Friday. Early voting ends on Friday, Nov. 3.

Four satellite locations —Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Rossville Civic Center, Chickamauga Civic Center and Lookout Mountain City Hall — for voting on the countywide referendum will open on Monday, Oct. 30. Voting hours are 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and these locations will be open through the close of business on Friday, Nov. 3.

Advance/early voting for the Chickamauga City Council is underway at City Hall, 103 Crittenden Ave., weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., according to Chickamauga Superintendent of Elections Lori Haney.

She said residents will be able to advance vote at city hall until closing on Nov. 3, when early voting ends prior to the Nov. 7 election day.

Voting for the TSPLOST referendum will take place at the county's satellite precinct, adjacent the public library at the Chickamauga Civic Center.

"The only time the county and city elections will be conducted at the same physical location will be on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 7," she said.

Mike O'Neal is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga. He can be reached at the Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at moneal@npco.com.